North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has not been seen inspecting military units for the past week and instead has been making field guidance tours of non-military sectors in an apparent move to resuscitate the country's moribund economy and show he cares about the livelihoods of ordinary people.
The change in schedule comes after the young North Korean leader conducted some 10 field inspections of military exercises, such as those involving the test-firings of medium ballistic missiles, a multiple rocket system and long-range artillery.
Pyongyang's aggressive maneuvers were in response to tougher U.N. Security Council sanctions on the North for its fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launch, as well as the ongoing joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
But in its Friday report, the North's Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim has made field guidance tours of a machinery factory located in the eastern part of the country.
Local experts speculated Kim's absence from the military exercises is an indication that he will wait and see the results of the ongoing two-day Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, which is to discuss how to tackle the threats of nuclear terrorism and how to strengthen an international regime for nuclear security.
His visit to the Sinhung Machine Plant in Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, took place four days after his visit to a commercial district and health complex in Pyongyang.
In his tour to the machine plant, Kim, however, stressed the need for the plant to conduct more efficient education so that its workers can carry out the Workers' Party plan for economic growth.
According to the KCNA report, Kim expressed pleasure over the fact that its officials and workers have made big strides in a drive to produce new kinds of high-performance machines.
"The plant should keep the production going at a high rate to satisfy the needs of various economic sectors for machines, fulfilling the assigned plan without fail and breaking the world level in the quality of products," he stressed.
"The plant has a very important role to play in building an economic power," he said, "setting forth the tasks for updating it to meet the needs of the age of a knowledge-based economy and a highly civilized socialist nation so that it can lead the country's machine building industry." (Yonhap)